(b. 1500, Treviso, d. 1571, Venice)

The Venetian Lovers

Oil on canvas, 81 x 86 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

One of Bordone's most celebrated works, this painting represents a favourite subject of early sixteenth-century Venetian art. Its Giorgionesque reminiscences, here reduced to a sort of bourgeois languor, date it around 1525-30. Yet it also shows a Mannerist restlessness that relates it to contemporary work by Palma il Vecchio. The scene is one of venal love (note the pallor of the man embracing the woman). Although the mysterious third figure with the swaggering air may portray a procurer, his artist's beret suggests that it may be a self-portrait. In that case the meaning of the work would be allegorical rather than specific.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.